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Updated: June 13, 2024

Thomas College adds to its education training with a degree for non-teachers

Student in library at Thomas College, in Waterville. Photo / Courtesy, Thomas College This July, Thomas College in Waterville will launch a graduate program in educational policy and reform.

To prepare students for careers as education analysts and in related fields, Thomas College will launch a graduate program in educational policy and reform this July.

The new degree, which will focus on policy, reform and advocacy, is for those interested in education but not necessarily in classroom teaching, according to the Waterville school.

“This program fills a gap we have noticed of those who want to work in the field of education and advocate for the community in a powerful way, yet prefer to serve outside of the classroom space,” said Katie Rybakova, who chairs Thomas College’s Lunder School of Education. 

Thomas College President Laurie Lachance is a longtime advocate of getting students career-ready. She was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2022, and plans to retire by June 2025.

“We attract students who are anxious to get started on their careers,” she told Mainebiz in 2019. “They have bills to pay, they have dreams to pursue, and they demand results.”

Thomas College aims to start with five students in the new educational policy and reform program, a spokeswoman for the school told Mainebiz. After that, the plan is to grow the program by offering it as an alternative option to existing Master of Science in Education programs.

With 688 undergraduate students enrolled in fall 2023, Thomas College is ranked No. 17 among the largest Maine colleges and universities in the 2024 Mainebiz Book of Lists.

'Policy making from the inside'

Students enrolled in the new educational policy and reform program will apply research, develop policy-analysis skill and examine the political, social, bureaucratic and economic facets of schools and educational systems. 

Participants will also learn how policy is linked to the practice of schooling, and use advocacy skills to inform reform and promote educational equity, according to the college. The program includes a practicum that can be set up as an apprenticeship.

"My role in the program is to help students learn about policy making from the inside," said Thomas College Professor James Libby, who is also a Maine state senator and member of the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

"Students will be expected to work in real-time on contemporary topics, employing best-practice research methodology and data management techniques to uncover inadequate educational outcomes and drive efficient and effective change," he added.

More information

Find out more about the new degree program here.

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